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Notes & Thoughts - Issue #9 - Remember Why You Started

February 4 · Issue #9 · View online
Notes & Thoughts
Welcome to the 9th Issue of Notes & Thoughts and the 1st issue for February! We are delighted to have you with us. You can read the other issues here.
It’s been a weird few weeks in Uganda since the year started. Our internet was completely shut off for about 5 days during our recently concluded elections season. And while the internet was restored about a couple of weeks ago, social media is still blocked. And in the process of blocking it, some services (including those we use to produce this newsletter) are still offline, hence the delay since the last newsletter was sent.
We had also hoped to launch our video content last month, but overall, internet access is so bad that we can barely upload anything with decent quality to YouTube.
But, we’re really hopeful to resume with regularity soon, and we look forward to providing you with great content and deep knowledge. In the meantime, we are grateful for your patience.
This week, I want to talk about moving beyond the obstacles that come up along our personal and professional journeys. You know, the self-doubt that creeps in when the frustrations and failure hits. I do hope you will find this edition of the newsletter helpful in navigating those difficult moments.
Also, share this with your friends and ask them to sign up so they can get this newsletter directly.
And finally, a special shoutout to our content sponsor Eversend, an application that enables you to quickly and affordably send money across Africa. Get Eversend from the Apple Store and Android App Store.
And now, enjoy the newsletter!
Solomon King
Founder - Fundi Bots and Curator - The Red Notebook.

"He who has a why can endure any how." - Frederick Nietzsche
"He who has a why can endure any how." - Frederick Nietzsche
Remember Why You Started
“He who has a why can endure any how.” - Frederick Nietzsche
Every single endeavor, project, dream or goal will hit a crisis or two at some point in its implementation. No matter how perfectly you execute an idea or follow through with a plan, no matter how airtight your script is, you will face challenges and setbacks.
Murphy’s law famously states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. While seemingly pessimistic, Murphy’s law is also a powerful tool for exploring and mitigating scenarios that could go wrong in the implementation of your plan or project. In stoicism, this is called premeditatio malorum - the premeditation of the troubles that might lie ahead, which helps us prepare for and address those troubles when they do eventually show up.
What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events.
— Seneca
But it’s not always possible to remain stoic, resilient and unwavering in the face of crisis. Sometimes - if not many times - situations overwhelm us and we become helpless, hopeless and disillusioned by the challenges we face. When this level of despair hits us, quitting can look like the only viable solution, especially if we believe we’ve tried everything to resolve the situation at hand.
But these crisis points are often the exact moments that turn into inflection points - moments of distress in which we come up with brilliant solutions that we would never have thought of before - and inflection points are powerful tool for accelerating growth.
Often, the one thing that can help us get back on track is to remember why we started. This raison d'etre is the lynchpin or foundation for our purpose; it is our why.
Every single endeavor or journey you’ve started had a singular moment when you discovered or understood why you wanted to start. And that purpose should always be your North Star when things get tough.
When you’re about to quit, remember why you started. – Unknown.
When you remember why you started, you get perspective, clarity and renewed focus, because your resolve shifts away from the crisis you’re facing and your mind goes into problem-solving mode, driven by the desire to complete the work you started.
From Crisis to Opportunity
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” - Charles R Swindoll
When faced with difficult challenges, we are hardwired to follow one of three instincts: fright, flight or fight, each of which creates drastically different outcomes for our long-term goals.
  • The Fright Instinct leads to inaction both in the present moment and for future endeavors. We doubt and question our ability and begin to feel like impostors or charlatans.
  • The Flight Instinct leads to abandonment or quitting completely. Quite simply, we assume that this crisis is beyond us and that there’s nothing we can do to resolve it.
  • And finally, the Fight Instinct helps us push back, examine and defend our crisis position, exploring ways in which we can resolve and move past the problem infront of us.
Remember, though, that sometimes fight can be the last step after both fright and flight. Sometimes we find ourselves mustering the resolve - much later - to return to the crisis. There is no shame in taking a step back to process, analyze and understand the situation. And above all, there is prudence in acknowledging that the situation is beyond you at that particular moment in time.
But how do we turn crisis into opportunity? How can we nurture the Fight Instinct to always be front and center in moments of crisis?
The first thing is to establish whether the source of the crisis is within our control or not. The second is to frame how we react to this presence or absence of control. And the third is to constantly train our minds to avoid instinctive reactions, but act decisively (and proactively), no matter the circumstances. As Victor Frankl so brilliantly put it, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
By creating and reframing this perspective, we can then decide whether we can navigate through the obstacle in our way - by addressing the reasons why it happened in the first place - or around the obstacle - by finding solutions that allow us to recalibrate and change strategy until we’re able to get back on track after moving past the obstacle.
No matter which approach we take, each of these decisions create powerful learning experiences that can, in turn, prepare us better for future challenges. Essentially, by choosing to constantly face our crises and decisively resolving them, we are training and building our strategy, decision-making and resilience muscles, which in turn leads to better leadership and improved personal growth.
Read This: Turning Obstacles in Opportunities
While this article from Chief Learning Officer, primarily addresses crisis leadership for organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also offers very strong steps leaders can follow to navigate from crisis to opportunity.
Entrepreneurs face obstacles from the moment they wake up in the morning, whether they’re trying to satisfy investors, struggling to meet payroll, dealing with unexpected complications or delivering a new product to market.
Of course, not everyone is cut out for these rough seas. But some individuals stand out as being particularly well-suited for dealing with what investor and advisor Ben Horowitz calls the “hard things.”
Sponsor Segment
Don’t forget to check out our content sponsor, Eversend. Their mobile platform enables rapid and affordable financial transactions across Africa.
And their partnership with the Red Notebook enables us to create great content for you to grow your leadership and management skills and help nurture stronger and more resilient organizations and businesses.
Get Eversend from the Apple Store and Android App Store.
Connect and Share with us!
The Red Notebook is building a community of African entrepreneurs and business professionals, and we leverage social media heavily, so please take a minute to connect and follow us on the following platforms: Our website - Twitter - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube - LinkedIn and Telegram
And lastly, if you believe there’s someone who could greatly benefit from this, share with them this newsletter!
Thank you, and see you next week!
Solomon King Benge
Founder - Fundi Bots and Curator - The Red Notebook.
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